Summary—Sharing 30 Years of Sermons Through a User-Friendly App
Bible-teaching ministry Truth For Life, a nonprofit rooted in radio content, had three decades of sermon archives they wanted to make available to their followers via a robust mobile app.
Other agencies had already failed to execute Truth For Life’s vision for the app, so the organization approached Agathon. Fortunately, we already had a trusting, fruitful partnership with Truth For Life. We were able to lean on and grow this partnership through the development of the groundbreaking new app.
In the end, we successfully launched the app, which includes not only the decades-worth of archived sermons, but also daily devotionals, bible readings, and radio programming.
Thanks to details like rich search functionality and built-in push notifications, the app is more user friendly than ever. And for Truth For Life, user accounts are integrated across the app and mobile site, which means integrated, actionable user data to authentically connect with their constituents.
We strive to provide the best digital experience for our users and Agathon has been an instrumental part in helping us work towards this goal. Agathon has a wide variety of skill sets that have been a great benefit to our organization. They consistently provide high quality work, help us think through larger projects, and can be trusted with the smallest details.
Sarah Sharp Director of Digital Communications, Truth For Life
In the Weeds—Our Soup to Nuts Approach to App Dev for Truth For Life
The Client: Truth For Life Aims to Evangelize in the Digital Age
Truth For Life is the teaching ministry of Alistair Begg, senior pastor at Parkside Church near Cleveland, Ohio. Begg has been in pastoral ministry since 1975. Considering his decades of preaching, the organization had countless hours of Bible-based teaching to share with both new and established followers.
The Challenge: 24/7 Bible Access From Any Device for Over 300,000 Users
In addition to making their sermons accessible to their followers, Truth For Life wanted to make Alistair Begg’s daily radio program as well as daily devotional and Bible readings widely available for their audience to access whenever it suited them.
Specifically, the mobile app needed to:
- Give users the ability to search, browse, share, and listen to Truth For Life’s large body of content.
- Integrate seamlessly with the ministry’s website, connecting user profiles in both places.
- Have a date-based component to support the timeliness of the content.
It was a tall order. And the ministry’s existing apps made the project even more complex. One of their existing apps was built from a template with limited functionality and basic integrations. And then, the ministry had a completely separate app dedicated to their daily devotional. With more than 300,000 users already on these platforms, they were quickly outgrowing the current apps’ clearly narrow capabilities.
The Ask: Further Truth For Life’s Mission Through a Unified App
As mentioned, we had previously worked with Truth For Life on system administration, web hosting, and website redesigns. Based on the strength of our relationship and the success of these past projects together, Truth For Life decided to trust the Agathon team with this high stakes new endeavor.
Their overarching goal? Spread their mission of “teach[ing] the Bible with clarity and relevance.”
The Scope: Strategy, Design, Development, and Deployment for Truth For Life
Because Truth For Life already had that legacy mobile app with hundreds of thousands of existing users, we had to release an initial version of the updated app packed full of all the features these users had come to expect.
To kick off the project, we spent an intensive day talking strategy with the Truth For Life team in their Cleveland-area offices. We reviewed their list of proposed new features and brainstormed what the ideal mobile app would look like—through the lens of their users. We created a product roadmap that very day, and we used it to inform the design by way of visual mockups.
Halfway through the development process, we took a brief step back from the active work and weekly meetings with the Truth For Life team. We needed to see the forest—not the trees—and ensure we were building the mobile app we’d described in the beginning. The results of our reset? We saw we were on nearly the same path as that first day, confirming the rock-solid work we’d done in crafting our vision together.
We pressed on. And with each line of code and new iteration of the app, we stayed focused on our initial vision and design. We sent new versions of the app to the Truth For Life team every two weeks for testing. We started with a handful of internal stakeholders and grew that test team to 15-20 people as we got closer to launch. Incorporating feedback from a diverse team along the way was a major project management feat. We credit this process for the resulting strong mobile app everyone believed in.
The Results: User Experience, Reinvented
Truth For Life’s revamped mobile app improved on their old product and includes additional key features:
- User accounts are integrated across the website and mobile app. This allows users to do things like “favorite” sermons, with preferences that are saved across both platforms. User account integration also provides Truth For Life with integrated data. This gives the ministry a better sense of who is using the app, allowing them to build stronger relationships with their users.
- Design and user experience are consistent with the website. The new app’s organization aligns almost directly with the website for a seamless user experience.
- The new app includes an improved media player experience. The richer media player allows users to listen to audio content while browsing the app. This is hugely important for an organization with so much audio content.
- Each sermon’s audio and video components are accessible in the app. Users with disabilities aren’t limited in the content they can access.
- A complete Bible text accompanies the app’s daily devotional. Using the full Bible feature, users can click to see each Bible verse referenced in the daily devotional. A one-year Bible reading plan, complete with verses for each day, is also included in the app.
- Rich search functionality allows users to filter based on content type. Because of the search they’d built on their website, Truth For Life knew users enjoyed being able to conduct searches for sermons, devotionals, etc.
- The app has built-in push notifications and messaging that allows Truth For Life to connect with their users in a timely way. It also has an inbox that archives all messages from Truth For Life.
- The new app was built in one platform that functions across iOS and Android devices as well as tablets. Using React Native, our team efficiently built a single app for all three platforms. This allows features to appear on all platforms at once and minimizes platform drift, where the app on one platform might diverge from the others over time.
A Dynamic Tool Fit For a Dynamic Ministry
Truth For Life’s new mobile app allows the organization to teach the Bible in a fresh new way, with clear functionality and technology that’s relevant to their audience. It’s a dynamic tool that fully supports the ministry’s mission.